Quasi-stellar object selection algorithm using time variability and machine learning: Selection of 1620 quasi-stellar object candidates from MACHO Large Magellanic Cloud database

Dae Won Kim, Pavlos Protopapas, Yong Ik Byun, Charles Alcock, Roni Khardon, Markos Trichas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)


We present a new quasi-stellar object (QSO) selection algorithm using a Support Vector Machine, a supervised classification method, on a set of extracted time series features including period, amplitude, color, and autocorrelation value. We train a model that separates QSOs from variable stars, non-variable stars, and microlensing events using 58 known QSOs, 1629 variable stars, and 4288 non-variables in the MAssive Compact Halo Object (MACHO) database as a training set. To estimate the efficiency and the accuracy of the model, we perform a cross-validation test using the training set. The test shows that the model correctly identifies 80% of known QSOs with a 25% false-positive rate. The majority of the false positives are Be stars. We applied the trained model to the MACHO Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) data set, which consists of 40 million light curves, and found 1620 QSO candidates. During the selection none of the 33,242 known MACHO variables were misclassified as QSO candidates. In order to estimate the true false-positive rate, we crossmatched the candidates with astronomical catalogs including the Spitzer Surveying the Agents of a Galaxy's Evolution LMC catalog and a few X-ray catalogs. The results further suggest that the majority of the candidates, more than 70%, are QSOs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul 10


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this